Jeffrey Straker - Music.
Singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Straker attended school in Punnichy,
Saskatchewan from Grades 1 to 12. During that time, he took piano
lessons from local music teachers. Following high school graduation, he
earned his Licentiate Performer’s Diploma from Trinity College London,
and his Bachelor of Science (honors) from the University of
Saskatchewan. Part of this degree was completed at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Jeffery has gone on to become an award-winning
singer-songwriter-pianist and performs over 100 shows per year across
Canada. He has recorded for CBC radio’s ‘Canada Live’, had a music video
chart in the top 10 on Much More Music TV and has toured
internationally as far as Peru, Mexico and Ghana. His tour stops range
from intimate house concerts to club and theatre shows, including
sold-out concerts with symphony orchestras in Regina, Saskatoon and
Sudbury. A significant career boost came from winning the prestigious
Vina del Mar (Chile) International Song Competition in 2014,
representing Canada. Performing live to a festival crowd of 20,000
people and to a TV audience of 100,000,000 viewers across the Spanish
speaking world, he gained a fan following putting him in demand for
performances in Latin America.
Jeffery’s 2012 album,
“Vagabond”, was recorded on Glenn Gould’s grand piano at the CBC studios
in Toronto and met with critical acclaim. The Toronto Star gave it 4
stars out of 4 and called it “one of the most faultlessly conceived and
meticulously executed albums in any genre to come out of Canada in a
long time”. Follow-up albums have included his 2014 “Live with CBC
Radio” release, and a new collection of songs launched in March, 2015,
that climbed to the top 10 on the iTunes Canada singer-songwriter
charts. The album “North Star Falling” has been a top 10 seller in
Saskatchewan and has seen Jeffery tour over 50 shows, from coast to
coast, in support of it.
Ryley Thiessen - Architecture.
Ryley Thiessen grew up on a dairy farm near Watrous, Saskatchewan,
where he was very active in sports and community programs. Surrounded by
wide-open prairies and endless opportunities, Ryley learned early in
life to dream big. Ryley graduated from Winston High School in 1996 and
was subsequently accepted into the Landscape Architectural Technology program
at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, AB.
It is here, where Ryley was introduced to the design world and where he
met his future wife, Shelagh. Upon graduating with Honors in 2000,
Ryley continued his studies at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, and
completed his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Degree (with
distinction). In 2002, Ryley and Shelagh were drawn west to Whistler, BC
where Ryley joined Ecosign as a junior designer. After 11 years, he was
named Vice President of Resort Design for Ecosign.
career with Ecosign, Ryley has been involved in four Olympic Winter
Games and was lead designer for the Snow Cluster Athletes Village, in
the recently awarded 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. He
has designed over 100 resorts, in 22 countries worldwide. Ryley was lead
designer of two of the most successful four-season resorts in the
world. Bukovel Resort in the Ukraine, which experienced growth from
50,000 to over 1 million annual visitors and Changbaishan Resort in
Northern China, which was constructed by China’s largest commercial
developer, with an estimated investment of over $2.5 billion (USD). In
2011, Ryley diversified and expanded his international experience by
relocating to Austria to manage Ecosign’s European office; overseeing
the transition of a new CEO and design team.
highlights and achievements include: the Alberta Association of
Landscape Architects Award (2000), the American Society of Landscape
Architecture design award (2002), the Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award
(2008), and induction into the NAIT Alumni Wall of Fame (2008). He was
honoured with the cover article “The Real Life of Ryley” for Techlife
Magazine (Fall 2009). In 2013, Ryley was featured in the Salomon
Freeski TV Series episode “The Architect” and in 2015, a CCTV
documentary video highlighting Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic
Ryley Thiessen is currently the Vice President of
Resort Design at Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners Ltd.; a world leading
design firm specializing in Ski and Mountain Resort design. Ryley
continues to enjoy his active mountain lifestyle in Whistler, where he
resides with his lovely wife, Shelagh.
Cori Morris - Athletics.
Cori Morris (nee Bartel) represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics in
Vancouver as lead for the Canadian women’s curling team. Stepping onto
the podium to receive a silver medal was the culmination of her
Cori was born in Humboldt in 1971, and was
raised on the family farm 7 miles northwest of Lanigan SK. She completed
her K-12 schooling at Lanigan
Elementary School and Lanigan Central High School, graduating in 1989.
Cori participated in many activities during these years, including
figure skating, indoor and outdoor soccer, volleyball, track &
field, piano, choir, drama, yearbook and was a member of the SRC. She
was also the recipient of many academic awards, including the Governor
General’s medal for highest academic standing in Grade 12.
began curling as a family activity with her parents, Herb & Dianne
Bartel, and her grandparents. While still in Grade 8 she was asked to
skip the high school girls curling team. In Grade 12, while playing on
the mixed curling team in the Quill Plains Regional Winter Games, her
team scored a 7-ender in the 1st end, but went on to lose the game –
this was a significant learning opportunity!
Cori moved to Ottawa to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences.
She continued to curl on a social level, and in 1998 was asked to be
fifth player for a team at the Ontario women’s provincial championships.
It was there her competitive juices were stirred, and upon moving to
Calgary later that year, she quickly sought out new curling
In 2002 Cori was selected to a National Training
Centre team that travelled to Karuizawa, Japan, site of the 1998
Olympics where Sandra Schmirler’s team won gold. In 2005 she joined the
Cheryl Bernard rink, with teammates Carolyn McRorie and Susan O’Connor.
The team represented Alberta at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in
2007 and 2009. They won their first national title at the Canadian
Olympic Curling Trials in Edmonton, in December 2009, and two months
later they represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics.
currently resides in Calgary, AB with her husband, Sean, and son,
Cooper. She is employed with ATB Financials’ Human Resources department.
Cori continues to curl, and delights in sharing her Olympic medal at
various events and coaching opportunities.
Dan Halyk - Business.
Dan was born and raised in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. After graduating
from Foam Lake Composite High School in 1986, he attended the University
of Saskatchewan from 1986 to 1992. During this time, he received his
Bachelor of Commerce (with Great Distinction) and Bachelor of Laws (with
Distinction) degrees. After completing law school, Dan clerked with the
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal before
moving to Calgary to practice corporate and securities law with Bennett
Jones LLP. In December, 1997, he left Bennett Jones to pursue his
business interests on a full time basis.
In 1996, Dan founded
Total Energy Services Inc., a public energy service company listed on
the Toronto Stock Exchange. He currently serves as their President,
Chief Executive Officer and a Director. He is also a principal of
Trident Capital Partners LP, a private limited partnership that he
co-founded in 1997, which invests primarily in the North American
energy, transportation and real estate industries.
on the Board of Directors of Innovation Saskatchewan, the Advisory Board
at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and the Dean’s
Advisory Council at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of
Business. He also serves as a director of several private for-profit
energy, energy service, real estate and hospitality companies operating
throughout North America, and is a member of the Law Society of Alberta.
Dan is a Past President of the Calgary Winter Club (2012-13)
and served on the five-person Financial Investment Planning and
Advisory Commission (2007-08) that reviewed and made recommendations to
the Minister of Finance on the Province of Alberta’s savings strategy.
Dan was twice recognized as one of Calgary’s Top 40 under 40 citizens
and together with his wife, Nicole, has and continues to support several
not for profit organizations with a special focus on organizations that
provide resources for under privileged families and public policy
Dan is the son of Alexander and Cecile Halyk of
Foam Lake. He is married to Nicole Plandowski and they currently reside
in Calgary with their four children.
Al Duerr - Politics.
Al Duerr is a founder, CEO and Director of General Magnetic
International Inc., a company that produces energy efficient permanent
magnet motors products for the energy industry. Prior to General
Magnetic, Mr. Duerr served as the CEO of a Swiss based international
finance company from 2001 to 2005.
In the public sector, Mr. Duerr was Mayor of Calgary from 1989
to 2001, obtaining the highest public support in successive elections
of any Mayor in Calgary’s history. His accomplishments include reducing
Calgary’s debt by more than half, economic diversification and securing
new long-term revenue sharing. He championed a Mayor’s Task Force on
Community and Family Violence which began a community process that
continued for decades. He positioned Calgary as a dynamic and important
center for innovation, trade and commerce.
Mr. Duerr also
served two terms as Alderman for the City of Calgary prior to serving as
Mayor, while at the same time founding and leading a Canadian water and
wastewater treatment company in Malaysia. After arriving in Alberta as a
general manager of a Saskatchewan-based planning consulting company, he
was a city planner for the City of Calgary and a district manager of an
Alberta-based development company.
Growing up on a farm with
seven siblings and a mother who was a teacher, Mr. Duerr attended
Burton Lake and Fulda elementary schools and Humboldt Collegiate
Institute. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Urban Geography
from the University of Saskatchewan and a Masters of Business
Administration (Beta Gamma Sigma) from the Haskayne Business School at
the University of Calgary. He holds an ICD.D, the professional director
designation of the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Duerr has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions
including Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellowship and the Chief
David Crowchild Memorial Award for his work in building bridges between
aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures. He is married to Kit Chan and
they have a son and daughter who are both engineers.
Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann - Academics.
Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, Anishinabe (Saulteaux) originally from Fishing
Lake First Nation, is the daughter of Chief Allan and Marjorie
Paquachan, wife of Patrick and mother of Cole and Shawkay Ottmann. After
graduating in 1983 from Wadena Composite High School, she began her
post-secondary experience in pre-journalism, then education.
of elementary and secondary teaching in public, separate, and private
systems in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and a principalship, Jacqueline
entered the University of Saskatchewan, Educational Administration
graduate program where she earned a Masters of Education degree (2002)
and a Ph.D. (2005) after completing research and dissertations on First
Nations spirituality and leadership, and First Nations leadership
Ottmann is currently Associate Professor, Director
of Indigenous Education, Coordinator of the First Nations, Métis and
Inuit Education Program at the Werklund School of Education, and Second
Vice-President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Indigenous
Education. Jacqueline has been active in research and publications that
focus on successes of Indigenous education, supporting Indigenous
students, Aboriginal language and literacy, Indigenous leadership and
governance, leadership development, organizational culture, change
management, diversity and intercultural leadership. Because of her
specialization, Ottmann has been invited to sit on numerous boards,
advisory committees and expert panels at local, provincial and national
contexts (e.g., the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board
Expert Advisory member), and has been invited to present at conferences.
She has established collegial, collaborative, scholarly, professional
and personal relationships in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and
In her professional work, Jacqueline strives to be
on the ‘cutting edge’ of the educational and leadership landscape. She
remains inquisitive and intrigued by learning and life. Her inspiration
comes from her faith, family, and a circle of supportive friends.
Jacqueline strives to walk with integrity, humility, joy, truth,
honesty, gratitude and hope.
Byron Bashforth - Film.
Byron Bashforth spent his childhood on a farm near Okla, SK. His early
interests in programming computers and various creative endeavors were
influenced by both his father, an electrical engineer, and his mother,
an artist and educator. Byron attended Lintlaw-Okla Elementary School
and Kelvington High School, graduating in 1992. While studying computer
science at the University of
Saskatchewan, Pixar Animation Studios released the world’s first
computer-animated feature film, Toy Story. Using technology to tell
stories and to create compelling images inspired Byron. After receiving
his Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science in 1996 and 1998, he moved
to California to begin his career at Pixar.
Byron’s first job
was on Toy Story 2 as a ‘render wrangler’ which involved generating
images with Pixar’s massive computer farm and making sure the final
frames in the movie were free of problems. Shortly afterwards, he
specialized in ‘shading’ - a department that employs both software
construction and digital painting to make virtual surfaces look like the
To date, his film credits include Toy Story 2,
Monsters Inc., For the Birds, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles,
Ratatouille, Up, Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out, and Lava.
Since 2001, he has focused on shading characters and has significantly
contributed to the final look of Dory and Gill (Finding Nemo), Helen
Parr (The Incredibles), Remy and Linguini (Ratatouille), and Kevin (Up),
Byron has supervised the character shading team
on Ratatouille, Monsters University, and Lava. In this role, he
translates visual concepts from the film’s production designer and
implements them digitally. He provides technical and artistic guidance
for the members of the shading team. Additionally, Byron is responsible
for the stability and function of the characters for other departments
throughout the duration of the production. Currently, Byron is the
Character Shading Lead for an upcoming feature to be released in 2017.